Violence In Hockey: When Does Essay, Research Paper
Violence in Hockey: When does it go to Far
How can a sport so frivolously put its talent in harm s way? Is there a need for hockey s top offensive players to skate with bull s eyes on their backs? (Smith 1) Isn t the NHL tired of sitting vigil in the hospital as doctors measure the diminishing brain activity of the players the league counts on to sell the sport? (2) How is it that football the ultimate contact sport doesn t allow for a second of the kind of headhunting that hockey does, the sort of violent play that puts the careers of Eric Lindros and Paul Kariya in jeopardy. (1) The recent establishment of the blue-ribbon injury panel has attempted to grasp the answers to these questions. (2) Basically the judicial system desperately wants the NHL to stop hurting each other. Society will no longer tolerate unnecessary violence in sports. (Heika 1) Opportunities to be aggressive are most frequent in heavy contact sports. Stimulus cues are strongest when the equipment used in the sport can be associated with violence and transformed into weapons. In conclusion violence is most likely to be a problem in certain sports. (Coakley 189) Like hockey, which we would expect a relatively high rate of violence in, where physical contacts provide opportunities, where hockey sticks can be used as weapons, and where norms among athletes and many spectators celebrate toughness and a willingness to fight, seek retribution and intimidate opponents. (Gruneau, R., &Whitson 14) Will NHL players adjust their tempers accordingly, or is this just the beginning of more aggressive behavior? (Panaccio 2) In my essay I plan to explore the use of violence in hockey and at what point it becomes unacceptable within societies standards, how violence in hockey effects the actions of its viewers, and does violence in the game cross over into the player s home lives.
The relationship between frequency of violence and aggression in competition was examined in professional hockey. Data collected from 9318 aggression incidents which occurred within 840 NHL games, found that when teams competed against each other more frequently they became more violent. (McGuire & Widmeyer) In the violent world of Professional Hockey there are hard checkers and fighters who don t achieve or sustain their tough reputations in one season or even two. It takes them many years to build up a reputation against their challengers, hundreds of stitches, dozens of broken bones, and a firm fear implanted in the opposition of there unruly hard play. (Fishler 12)
Marty McSorley has become the perfect example of an NHL player whose rough play strikes fear in those opposing him on the ice. The recent incident between the Boston Bruins enforcer, Marty McSorley, and Canucks, Donald Brashear has given rise to the issue of violence in the NHL again recently. (Smith 2) In October Judge William Kitchen found Marty McSorley guilty of assault for a two-handed hit to the head of Donald Brashear. This should send a strong lesson to all athletes who believe that sports arenas are protected from the rules of society. But does it? McSorley received 18 months conditional discharge. That means if he serves a clear sentence over the next 18 months
his record will be cleared. So why find him guilty at all? Why even bring him to trial? The judge basically took the easy way out by the guilty verdict but he obviously didn t feel strongly enough about it to give him any jail time or a fine. (Heika 1) What qualifies as serious enough assault, that we should take actions to punish players outside of the hockey arena, where is the line drawn? Should Ruslan Salei be convicted of assault for pushing an off balance Mike Modano into the Reunion Arena boards in the 1999 season. (2) Definitely a major incident of violence was addressed by the NHL in 1998, when Dino Ciccarelli, with the Minnesota North Stars, was sentenced to a day in jail and a $1,000 fine for hitting Toronto s Luke Richardson with his stick. (Smith 2)
Recently Marty McSorely has become the scapegoat for violence in hockey. Luckily for the NHL he didn t make the trial into a circus by bringing in players, Hall of Famers, coachers, and owners who would have all been able to testify to numerous acts of violence in the sport. Instead Marty maturely accepted the penalty souly for his actions.
He is 37 years old, standing 6 1 , and weighing in at 235 pounds. (Sports Illustrated) He spent the first decade of his NHL career, being Wayne Gretzky s on-ice body guard to the Edmonton Oilers and later the Los Angeles Kings. (Maclean s 2) He regularly punched out players who dared to rough up the Great One. His unwavering work ethic enabled him to develop into one of the league s better defensemen. Would he have reached the NHL without his fighting ability? He probably wouldn t have even reached Junior A. (Sports Illustrated 4) McSorley is the third most penalized player in league history with 3,280 minutes. He has had more than his share of suspensions. (Globe & Mail 2) Fighting has been his job and violence is what has allowed him to sustain his career. At the time of the incident both the Bruins and Canucks were struggling to save fading playoff hopes. (Sports illustrated 4) McSorely squared of against Brashear, Vancouver s tough guy shortly after the first face off. The 28 year-old player pulverized McSorely. After this embarrassment McSorley continued to challenge Brashear into a rematch, but he continuously refused. By the final minute the Bruins were down 5-2. When Brashear took the ice; Boston sent McSorely out. It was obvious that he was out there to confront Brashear one last time. (Macleans 2) When he stepped onto the ice McSorley was desperate to fight Brashear, to save his career and obey his coaches bidding. He approached Brashear, whose back was turned. Then McSorley aggressively swung his stick and struck Brashear s head. (Sports Illustrated 5) Brashear dropped t o the ice with a massive head injury. He was unconscious and having a seizure when Dr. Rui Avelar reached his side. (Safe Hockey 2) This act of violence should be unacceptable in any sport and the fact that was passed off simply as a penalty is bringing no justice to the matter. Violence of this extreme is unacceptable to society so why should it be accepted in any form in hockey? Many great hockey player s careers and health have been put into harms way due to concussions resulting from rough play. How many concussions are too many? A few examples of players being forced to quit due to extensive injuries are:
Players like Eric Lindros whose career may be over shortly, since he s suffered his sixth concussion in two years. Lindros was only playing his second game in May 2000 after a ten-week absence because of post concussion syndrome. It is widely speculated upon his return, that Lindros next concussion could end his career. His younger brother, Brett Lindros, retired from the NHL in 1996 after suffering three concussions with the New York Islanders and several concussions in the juniors. (CNN Sports Illustrated 5) Geoff Courtnall retired from the NHL after a 17-year NHL career due to reoccurring post concussion syndrome. (Blues) McCauley of the Toronto Maple Leafs had to take a year off hockey after being smashed head first into the boards by New Jersey s Sheldon Souray. It was the fourth concussion McCauley has suffered since his rookie junior season in 1993- 1994 and first as a pro. (Wharnsby 1) New York Rangers defensemen Jeff Beukeboom retired due to a series of concussions in the 1999 season. (Calgary Herald) Pat Lafontaine of the New York Rangers is advised by his doctor to stop playing hockey following his sixth concussion. (Canoe) Anaheim s Paul Kariya probably won t play anymore this season because of concussions. Dennis Vaske of the New York Islanders may have played his final game for the same reason and the list goes on. (Rappoport) Violence is the norm with players but it is also the norm with the fans and viewers. Some incidents of extreme violence between fans and hockey teams are as follows: On January 7, 1972, the St. Louis Blues and the Philadelphia Flyers were playing at the Spectrum and the Flyers were trailing by 2 after 2 periods. The blues were protesting because they felt the second goal was counted unfairly. A player protested by walking to the dressing room after a two-minute penalty. As the St. Louis head coach followed, a fan poured beer on his head. That ignited one of the worst donnybrooks in the history of the NHL and emphasized how frequently fans become caught up in the whirlpool of hockey violence. Fourteen St. Louis players charged across the ice and surged on the walkway. The fans throw debris at the players. Some of the Blues retaliated swinging their sticks at the fans. Punches were exchanged. Police reinforcements were called 150 cops in all responded and soon they and some of the blues were brawling. (Fishler, Stan 22 & 23) During a pre-game warm up hundreds of spectators swarmed to rink side and shouted obscenities at the Bruins. Then after the game, the Bruins were forced to skate off the ice with gloved hands protecting their heads from barrage of missiles that included lighters, keys, oranges, and apple cores. (26) Such disorderly conduct might have been incited in the fans by the constant violent behavior of the hockey teams. Violence in the hockey rink does beget violence in the outside world in many different ways. (47) One of the most disturbing trends in American sports is the increasing frequency and severity of violence. Many authorities in the field of violence prevention believe that the increasing acceptance of violence in sports creates a cultural climate that spills over and translates into greater violence in society. (Texas Youth Commission) Injuries occur on the ice due to violence, which seems to be inherent with the sport. These players get paid the big bucks to play. So they get hurt isn t that what they get paid for. So when examining this message what are we telling the young viewers. If the heroes of the sport go around bashing each other and getting into fights at the drop of a puck is it okay for our younger players to the same. (Safe Hockey) Professional athletes are powerful role models for American youth. (Robinson 123)
The cultural spill over theory holds that the more a society tends to legitimate the use of violence to attain ends for which there is widespread social approval, the greater the likelihood of illegitimate violence. This study was a test of cultural spillover theory as it applies to hockey violence. Based on data from a representative sample survey of 604 hockey players from Toronto, Canada; and a comparison group of 153 non-players, it tested that proposition that violence in hockey spill over into violence in other social settings. The result spillover explanation of hockey violence. Older players in highly competitive select leagues were more likely to approve of violence and act violently in other social settings than younger select players, and non-players of all ages. (Bloom, G.A.; Smith, M.D.) I m going home to beat my wife, Penn State football coach Joe Paterno once said at a press conference after his team had lost to the university of Texas. Later he defended his statement as just part of the sports culture, locker room talk, harmless, a joke that didn t mean anything. However other members of this culture have carried this joke to extremes. Such as baseball star Darryl Strawberry who admitted to beating his wife and pointing a gun in her face. And of course, there is former football great O.J. Simpson, who pleaded no contest to beating his wife on New Years Day, 1989, and now has pleaded not guilty to charges that he killed her and her male friend. (New York Times) Bobby Orr used to also beat his wife. All of these incidents back up the theory of cultural spillover of violence in sports. Hockey has become an extremely violent sport over the years and it is important that society is seeing that in order for Canada to continue to be proud of its National sport, something needs to be done about its brutality. Violence is killing the sport. Violence causing injuries has caused the early retirement of some of the leagues best players and brightest hopefuls. It is inciting the fans into violent behavior and influencing little kids into aggressive behavior in order to get ahead in the game or even in life. Unfortunately in some cases the violence on the ice is carrying over onto outside world with violent acts and family abuse. Luckily society is starting to make an example of its small tolerance for violence in the NHL. Hopefully in the future there will be more rules passed and violence in hockey will no longer be a major asset of the game.